Visions of sugar plums, no… but visions of food delights to be sure

What’s a sugar plum?

I grew up in the urban areas of California. I didn’t really connect that the berries my grandmother used to make incredible freezer jam had to actually be picked by a person until I went to college and friends took me out strawberry picking. They grew up in a place where every kid made extra money picking berries. I was stunned by the whole experience, and still broke because I was the worst strawberry picker ever.

I think about this as the morning of Christmas Eve dawns, and I finalize my Christmas Menu 2013. Visions of this bounty of food — no sugar plums, sadly — dance in my mind. Life is full, expansive and curious. It only took me nearly half a century to wonder about a sugar plum.

I think I love the act of planning big family meals almost more than eating them. I love the details, the coordination, the scheduling and the shopping. I love the cooking, because all my kids will pop in to help. Even my wife joins in — she cooks like my father attended Mass: twice a year on Easter and Christmas and no questions asked about the rest of the year. It’s an arrangement that works well for us, because she cleans, something of which I’m less fond.

My to-do list is nearly finished, Elvis Christmas carols play in the background and the place looks great:

2013-12-23 15.14.43

Food and family. That blessing tops all others at the holidays.

As day breaks on these holidays I have so much, so very much for which to be grateful. Every bite of these meals will be one where I say grace over and over in my mind.

A blessed holiday to you and yours.

Christmas Menu 2013

Christmas Eve: Pizza night (per tradition):

Homemade Pepperoni, Margherita, and Combo, with a big green salad topped with cranberries and apples.

Christmas Day:

Breakfast: Homemade Blueberry Jelly Doughnuts, Pesto Scramble.

Lunch: Fried Eggplant with marinara sauce, antipasto platter and Italian deviled eggs.


Grilled Prime Rib… yes its Dinner. Thank you Dinner my steer. This night you fulfill your great destiny to be a holiday dinner no less.

2013-12-23 09.17.15

Fresh-made fettucine with either the family meat sauce or alfredo, baked Italian bread

Bacon- braised brussel sprouts (say that five times fast!)

Asparagus spears with lemon


Double-fudge with caramel cookie topped with homemade peanut butter ice-cream

Christmas cookies.

I’d love to hear what you’re planning for Christmas meals. Reply below.

A final note about the holidays. Readers of this column may note it is really a celebration of recovery. I’ve been sober now for 54 months. My wife has been sober for six. This is our first non-alcoholic family Christmas in…. well, ever. This is a true gift from God.

When I drank I couldn’t imagine life without it. I figured the fun would cease and desist leaving me a sad, empty diminished soul. The exact opposite occurred. Like Baby soaring high in Patrick Swayze’s arms, “I’m having the time of my life.”

Celebrate sober. You’ll love it. And as always, I’m here if you need an ear. Drop me a line if you are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, especially this holiday season. I can’t do much, but I’ll listen.


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